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Salvador Perez Breaks Home Run Record for Catchers

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Sep/22/2021

Lost in the pennant races that do not involve the Kansas City Royals is the record-breaking season of Salvador Perez, now the single-season leader in home runs by a catcher. 

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On Monday Perez hit his 46th home run of the season, breaking Johnny Bench’s record of 45 home runs in 1970. Bench went on to be a 22-year-old MVP that season, and repeated the award in 1972 after hitting 40 home runs.

Perez is a seven-time All-Star and is the only remaining holdover for the Royals from their back-to-back World Series appearances in 2014 and 2015. But as one of the most used catchers in all of baseball, his production, and specifically his power numbers, have never been this strong.

Perez missed all of 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and played just 37 games in the pandemic-shortened season of 2020. And it is that rest, and playing so few games over the course of two years, that is being credited with giving the 31-year-old his uptick in home runs. In 2017 and 2018 he hit 27 home runs, his career-high until this season.

The five-time Gold Glove winner was a first-time participant in the Home Run Derby this season, and hit the most home runs ever by a catcher in that event. His 28 home runs were the third-most hit in the first round, but because the head-to-head format had him paired with eventual champion Pete Alonso, he did not advance to the second round.

Perez is currently leading the American League in home runs and RBI, and has missed just one game this season. 

2021 American League MVP 

Unlike when Johnny Bench hit his 45 home runs, Salvador Perez is not likely to get many MVP votes. That is because of the jaw-dropping seasons by Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.

Ohtani is an All-Star pitcher on the mound, clearly one of the best hitters in the game (he’s also top-10 in stolen bases) and has turned the league on its head by showing that being a two-way player is still possible in modern baseball. He is the rightful favorite to win the award.

Indeed, even at the BetUS Sportsbook, odds for the American League MVP have quietly dropped from the MLB odds board.

Also in the mix is Guerrero, who is having one of the best seasons at the plate in recent memory. Beginning this week his American League ranks include: first in hits, first in runs, tied for first in home runs, and third in RBI.

He’s leading all three slash categories — batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage — and he would be only the 12th player in MLB history to win all three categories and not win the MVP award, and first in the American League since Fred Lynn in 1979.

Guerrero has been terrific, and in almost any other year he would be a cinch to win the award. But Ohtani is a once-in-a-century type of player having a season for the ages, and the smart money is on him to win. 

2021 National League MVP 

All season long this has looked like Fernando Tatis, Jr’s race to win. He’s been first on most betting boards since the season began, and he has put up the numbers to justify those lofty expectations. Beginning the week, Tatis leads the National League in home runs (39), is fifth in RBI, third in OPS and third in runs scored.

But as the Padres struggle down the stretch, and a playoff appearance for them becomes less likely with each passing day, the Phillies are surging, and so is the MVP case for Bryce Harper.

Harper is third in batting average, tied for third in home runs (33), second in on-base percentage, first in slugging and first in OPS.

Making matters worse for Tatis the very public feuding going on with the team, as they fall in the standings. While everyone in Philadelphia agrees that it is Harper that is fueling the Phillies late-season run that has them within striking distance of the Braves, just three games behind them in NL East before Tuesday’s games.

Harper currently leads Tatis and the field on the BetUS Sportsbook’s National League MVP odds board. Harper’s -125 price is just ahead of Tatis, priced at even odds. Max Muncy leads the rest of the field, trailing in a very distant third place at +1600.

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